If you run a business, one of the most challenging things is getting people to buy your products/services. The more you get people to buy your products and services, the more your business will succeed financial and thrive in the market place.
But it is not that easy.
Getting people to buy your products/services means you have to study how customers make buying decisions. If you understand how customers make buying decisions, you can leverage that knowledge to influence and stimulate them to make a purchase naturally and effortlessly.
Ideally, customers make buying decisions by following a five-step process. These processes are followed unconsciously and irrationally. A good understanding of which stage the customer is in the buying journey will help you to know which buttons to push to make the sale.
Customers make buying decisions by following steps:
- Recognition of Need/Problem
- Searching for Information
- Evaluation of Options
- Product Decision Making
- Post Product Evaluation
Recognition of Need/Problem
The very first thing that initiatives the buying decision is recognition of need/problem. When a potential customer realizes a need for something, the buying journey begins.
Sometimes a business may think that they know a customer’s needs out of sheer absence, but then the fact that a customer does not have a particular product/service does not necessarily mean that he/she needs it. This is one of the marketing mistakes that businesses make.
The secret to marketing success is to identified a perceived need and fill it. Identify the need that customer has perceived he/she needs. That’s where the money is. And how do you identify a perceived need? By studying and analyzing your prospective and current customer’s continually.
When you identify a perceived need, what do you do? You promote the problem in your marketing campaigns. The more your promote the problem, the more the customer become conscious of his/her need for the solution, for which your business will sell to him/her to make the sales.
Searching for Information
Once a customer realizes that he/she needs something, the next step they take is searching for information. They search for information on how they can fill the need. They search for information on how they can solve the problem.
They talk to their friends. They talk to their relatives. They talk to their family folks. They talk to their co-workers. They talk to their wives/husbands. They research the information from Google, websites, company blogs and so forth. They search for information so that the can find the best way to fill their need and solve their problem. The more pressing the need, the quicker the search for information!
So you see, before the customer meets you or before you meet them, they already have ardent information about their need/problem. In some cases, they bring specialists/consultants/salespeople to educate them about their problem and the find the best solution for them.
Once you understand this process in the customer’s journey, you have to understand that you must educate and advice the customer the most. Your business blog, company website and social media platforms must be full of tips, advice and solution oriented guidelines that will help the customer at this stage in the decision making process so that they can trust your product offerings.
Evaluation of Options
At this stage, customers know they have a problem; they have gotten more information on how to solve their problem. The next step is to evaluate the various options available and to make the appropriate decisions to fill their need.
At this stage customers know how to get their problems solved, so they begin to set criteria to make their buying decisions. They set criteria such as pricing, time of delivery, convenience, customization, after sale services and many others.
Once they set the criteria for buying decisions, they evaluate the proposals put forth by salespeople from various businesses and companies based on those criteria. To make the sales, the sales person must focus on asking more questions to know what the customers want and the criteria they are using.
Product Decision Making
The decision making process comes naturally if the salesperson has done his/her homework. In the product decision making process the customers have various options and they have evaluated them to see which one will best solve their problem as well as meet their budget.
At this stage, salespeople must be on the lookout for objections and things in the customer’s mind that can kill the sale. Sometimes, salespeople just forget the customer after meeting him/her the first time. They don’t follow-up repeatedly to find out objections and how to deal with them.
Research has shown that the sales order is made in about the fourth and fifth meeting. That means the salespeople who follow up the most on the prospective customers are those that eventually make the sales. They ask a lot of questions, find out customer objections, deal with them and make the sale.
Post Product Evaluation
Customers expect the product/service to do what the salespeople say it will do. So after the order has been made and money has been exchanged the product/service must work. If the product/service works very well, filling the customers’ needs and exceeds the expectation, the business will begin to build customer loyalty.
The customer will be excited and may probably refer the product/service to other people. This leads to repeat sales for the business. But the opposite happens if the product/service cannot do what they have marketed it for. The customer experiences pain feels he/she has made a bad buying decision and wasted his/her money. It is even worse when the customer begins to tell his/her friends and get information on social media.
After-sales services such as contacting the customer, educating the customer, getting customer feedback and all others build more brand loyalty once the product/service works very well, or they have been a problem. When this happens, the business has fulfilled its original reason for existence—making and keeping customers. Sales follow and profits come in!
Are you in business? Do you understand how your customers make buying decisions? How do you take your customers through the sales pipeline and get the sales done? Use the process above to map out a plan on how to take customers through the sales journey and make the sales every time.
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